Korean Food In Queens
Although many Americans seem to know about the cultural backgrounds of China or Japan in the Far Eastern part of the globe, many are not familiar with the small country of Korea. Nonetheless, it continues to expand its influence even here in America, both economically and culturally. From the Samsung smartphones to the Hyundai cars, Korea has been stable in keeping its stance in the overseas markets. However, it is not just the electronics or cars that represent Korea here in the United States. Throughout the years, as many Korean immigrants started to settle in the Flushing area of Queens, many restaurants have opened for a convenience of local patrons. Korean food is now readily available not only in the homes of typical Korean families, but also in the restaurants on the streets of Queens, where they serve many different types of foods.
Like many cultures, Korean food has many different variations. Korean cuisine generally includes rice, vegetables and meat. Some were influenced from the neighboring countries such as China, Mongolia and Japan. Koreans typically eat a main dish and several side dishes. There is always a bowl of rice for each person, and the main dish could consist of a stew, soup, even porridge or noodles to replace the rice. The side dish es are present to complement the main dish. The most famous Korean food is called kimchi, which can be an ingredient in a main dish, or eaten as a simple side dish. It is a traditional food that is made up of seasoned cabbage. Although there are many different varieties of kimchi, the most common type includes seasoning made with brine, scallions, red chili pepper flakes, ginger, garlic and saeujeot, which is a Korean word for shrimp sauce. Kimchi can be seen in almost all Korean meals. It is eaten as a side dish and can also appear in many types of stews, noodle dishes and much more.
Kimchi is not the only Korean food seen in restaurants. Korean barbecue is also immensely popular and not just in Flushing, where there are more than a handful of barbecue restaurants to choose from. Korean BBQ is called kalbi, and this is also presented in many varieties, much like the kimchi. Kalbi is made with marinated beef or short ribs. However, it can also be eaten without any seasoning or sauce. Some restaurants even have spicy marinated ribs for more variety. In kalbi restaurants, the meat is cooked at the customers’ tables. There are grills set in the tables and the customers can cook the raw meat to their own preference. The kalbi is served with lettuce and other vegetables used to wrap the meat, along with fermented bean paste and red pepper paste.
In addition to the kimchi and the meat, light snacks such as gimbap and ddukbokkie should not be overlooked. Gimbap is a roll of white rice with various other ingredients such as sliced cucumbers, radish or meat rolled in dried seaweed and served in bite-sized pieces. In Korea, it is often eaten in picnics. Ddukbokkie, which is rather difficult to pronounce, is a spicy rice cake with fish cake and optional noodle. Ddukbokkie can be easily spotted in the street vendors in Korean cities such as Seoul. Both the gimbap and the ddukbokkie are categorized as what is known as boonshik, a Korean word for light snacks. Even in Flushing, there are a lot of boonshik restaurants that sell these snacks. For those with a sweet tooth, hoddeok will be a perfect snack. Hoddeok is a Korean style pancake served hot and with sweet syrup filling inside the pancake. The dough is mixed with cinnamon, brown sugar, and chopped nuts. The sweet mixture is then fried in a lightly oiled pan until the filling has melted into syrup.
Korean cuisine is versatile in that it has an abundance of dishes that could be enjoyed lightly and as meals. As more Queens residents expand their palates by exploring Korean cuisine the more they will enjoy its charms and diversity.